If you are you still one of OZ, let’s check something together: What made our OZ team unique?
When you have a minute, please spend this minute on Q7, and I will let you all know what made OZ special as soon as I get your responses.
Please write “OZ” as your place of work. Your contribution to the research will be invaluable!
If the elephant is really big, find the way to have only one elephant dropped on your plate.
Make sure that the elephant is … well, does not move. This step may turn brutal but it is mandatory if you want to stay alive and well yourself (in case this is really an elephant and not just a dead horse).
Take all measurements, including length of tusks and body weight. Plan the cuts (if this is your first time, use a beef chart for initial planning). Never try to eat it yourself. Just having to taste the elephant cuts here and there, you will get full, regardless, I can bet any money, so not a bite.
Plan to keep the tusks though: they look good on your CV.
Calculate how many meals it will make and what kind of meals; based on the findings, figure out how many eaters you will need on your team. When negotiating eaters’ availability with their line managers, make sure the eaters have the guts that are appropriate for the meal. Note: Be cautious with diversity and inclusivity. Your team will be naturally effective AND diverse if you select players who are excited to eat an elephant. If their values are aligned, nothing else matters; disregard their racial, religious, sexual or political orientation. However, whatever they tell you, it will probably make no sense to have vegans and Hindus on this particular team.
Depending on the climate, you may need to have the elephant eaten as soon as possible; otherwise it is going to rot, and nobody will want to eat your elephant unless you pay extra. And mind you, the smell will then follow you for quite a while…
You may then decide to optimize your eating plan. Get your newly formed team involved in the process: a properly orchestrated brainstorming session boosts motivation and increases appetite. You must go out of the room with an updated Elephant Cuts Chart and a clear common understanding of who eats what and when. Some toddlers may need to be reminded that a mouthful of half-chewed meat does not count as eaten.
When all the above has been taken care of, eating the elephant goes like a song. Seriously, make it fun. When work is turned into play, your team will be intrinsically motivated and therefore efficient throughout the entire meal.
Do not forget to praise your best eaters when the meal is over. Celebrate their success. Serve them something really special, serve them yourself, each and everyone, and be genuinely grateful because they had the elephant eaten for you.
If you do all the above correctly, the team will be ready to eat an elephant for you again and again, while cheerfully chasing all predators away from you and stomping out office snakes and lizards on the way.
And the fellow tribesmen watching you from the distance will whisper with awe: That’s a really good project manager!
A VP friend complained the other day that “the job is OK but I can’t get myself to the office, every day.” Before that statement, he looked and sounded like a happy senior executive steady and successful on his career path. Not true, he says. He is actually envious of people who have found their direction in life.
How’s that possible for a senior manager with an admirable career track?
Just before that confession, we discussed his Q7 questionnaire results, and his feedback was somewhat disturbing. Among other things, he mentioned that although he has “more respect for Option B,” he wants his “dream teammate” select Option A – as it is “better for the business.” And that, according to my friend, makes it difficult to answer the Q7 questions.
Now I see the problem.
My friend may have a severe misalignment of values with his team. This incongruence leads to personal life-work imbalance, and that my friend can see for himself, the can’t-get-myself-to-office feeling. If not taken care of, this problem most likely affects the entire business, leads to disengagement and poor efficiency within the business, and a poor brand image projected to your customers and the entire outside world.
We will be working on it together. It is a challenging task that will take but as the desire to improve team culture is coming from the top, we will be able to achieve the necessary change, make a good company better.
As a leader, you have to always stand for your team, right? Wrong.
Rather, first, you need to make sure you realize which team is “your team.”
That may sound counterintuitive but that’s life. Being a manager (team lead, manager, director, etc.), you are in charge of a unit consisting of several individuals. If you are part of an effective organization, your team consists of a few immediate reports, ideally 5 to 10, that you call “your team.” But whatever your role is, you are part of yet another team – your own boss’ team. Thus, you are a member of two teams at least, usually on two different levels, and your real team is the “upper” team. Your position within the “upper” team is the main driver of everyday actions, and your performance there will determine your career progression and professional success.
As I realized working with senior managers in various environments, the “real team” is not immediately clear to many. But it is very important to understand, visualize and accept. If you disagree with this dual team approach, then maybe you are one of the reasons why your organization is less efficient than it would like to be. This is not politics; this is how truly effective businesses work. Continue reading “Always Stand Up for Your Real Team”→
(On the photo, a post(wo)man delivering mail to the residents of Freising, Munich area)
Door-to-door mail delivery to urban customers has been phased out in Canada in the last five years.
This was a major cost-saving initiative of Canada Post. As a performance improvement specialist, I doubt its value for Canadians. Without a doubt, there is a better way to improve efficiency, instead of going into this cost cutting death spiral, as Tom Peters put it in his book “The Excellence Dividend.”
Since 2013, the only rationale offered by the Crown Corporation was that two-thirds of Canadians don’t have mail delivered right to their doors already, so the other five million should not complain. And a local public servant obligingly added at the time that this is even better for the elderly citizens – to have a daily walk to the communal “super-mailbox”…
If you promise to spend this extra hour with your family (or at least out of the office), I will tell you what needs to be done. And it is free, no purchase necessary. Your only investment is a pen and paper.
I have done this exercise several times with various clients, and the results were always positive. On average, you become 10% more time-efficient after the first attempt, and that is about one hour per day for a real-life professional.
Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) once praised her boss for “trying to make meetings as productive as possible.” According to her, Mark Zuckerberg “asks people to send materials in advance so we can use the time for discussion” and “we try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting–are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”
At first, I thought Ms. Sandberg was being sarcastic: Can you really call those “efficiency tricks”? But then I had to admit that outside a limited ‘club’ of a few strong managers I have worked with, almost none of the business meetings that I have audited could be considered efficient.
Now the good news. The ‘tricks’ that make your meetings productive are not new or hard to learn, you can easily get ahead of Zuck (although he may be getting some extensive coaching right now); it is just a matter of self-discipline. Well, almost.
I have not yet met a single manager who would not complain about ‘boring’, ‘endless’ and ‘useless’ meetings they have to host or attend on a daily basis. And yet most of them are literally just a few words away from making their meeting a really effective communication and teambuilding tool.
There is but a grain of joke in this PM joke: requirements are key. In real life, three different sets of requirements could and should be identified during the project initiation.
Requirements-1: The Spec.
First requirements that come to mind are the “standard” ones: what exactly we have to deliver. If the “what” is not defined properly, different interpretations of the requirements will lead to reworks, conflicts, delays etc.
Although requirements definition and requirements management is an important part of the PM’s job, it is important to go one level higher and make sure that we understand the business context.